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HRC: 'I am no shrinking violet'

From NBC/NJ's Mike Memoli
LOUISVILLE, KY -- Hillary Clinton touted her electability and
commitment to the Bluegrass State as she was the only candidate to
address Democrats tonight.

"The only way we can have a Democrat in that White House come next
January is to win in November, and we cannot win unless we can win 270
electoral votes," she said. "Look at the map, figure out where we're
going to get those votes, and which candidate is more likely to be able
to win those votes in November against John McCain. I have taken on the
Republicans before and I have won."

Many speakers tonight noted the absence of Barack Obama. Terry
McBrayer, a former state party chair and superdelegate, drew some boos
from Obama supporters on hand when he said he contacted a local milk
company to put Obama's picture on a milk carton.

Clinton herself noted she was the only candidate to come, saying it was
important "because Kentucky always picks the president." She later
said, as she did in West Virginia earlier this week, that Democrats
"for too long" have let states like this one "slip out of the
Democratic column."

"Too many people felt our party didn't speak to their values and
concerns," she said. "Well I believe if you don't stand for
hard-working middle-class Americans you don't stand for much. And it's
now up to the Democratic Party and our eventual nominee to make that
case."

Clinton also talked up her middle-class roots and her reputation as a
fighter, saying in the home of the Louisville Slugger that she would
"always go to bat" for the middle class, because that is "where I came
from."

"One thing you know about me is I am no shrinking violet," she said. "If I tell you I will fight for you, that is exactly what I intend to do."

Speaking before Clinton, Gov. Steve Beshear had some fighting words of his own. He tied the plight of the national Democrats to local ones, having reclaimed the office from a Republican incumbent last year. He said Democrats were "problem solvers."

"I can think of only one Republican that could be a problem solver," he added. "And that is Vice President Cheney, if he would just take George on a hunting trip."

Clinton sticks up for health care plan
PORTLAND, Ore. -- Hillary Clinton held a roundtable discussion this morning in which she made the case not so much for her campaign but for her plan for universal health care plan, which she called the "unfinished business of our country."

Clinton drew distinctions between her plan and Barack Obama's, but shied away from overly critical rhetoric.

"You have to have a seamless healthcare system which covers every single person," she told a few dozen people at Doernbecher Children's Hospital. "My plan does, my opponents plan doesn't. There are 600,000 uninsured Oregonians. Under my plan everyone would have insurance. Under his plan at least 220,000 would still be left uninsured. This is a big difference in this campaign. And really it's not a difference of politics so much as commitment."

Clinton was introduced by Jordan Kokich, who 14 years ago met with the then-first lady through the Make A Wish Foundation, and now works as an organizer for her campaign in Oregon. She and others talked about their experiences in the health care system and why they felt a universal plan was needed. Clinton argued that setting a goal short of fully universal coverage would make the effort less likely to succeed.

"We need a president who understands how tough this is going to be," she said. "[Insurance companies] are not going to give up without the fight of our lives, because there's too much money in it. Let's be honest here. … I believe the time is ripe, but you don't get there by setting a goal less than universal health care. You set the goal of universal health care, then you work to achieve it. And that's exactly what I intend to do."

As she works to sure support for her continuing in the race, the Clinton campaign issued a release saying that the fight for universal health care is the "driving force" behind her bid.

"One of the reasons I wanted to run for president was finish the work I started in '93 and '94, and to build on the work I was able to do in  '97 and '98 to help create the children's health insurance program," she said here. "I want to fix our health care system. That is why I'm running for president. And that is one reason why I hope voters in Oregon will support me."